Working Group I. Structure and Bioactivity of Low-Molecular Food Ingredients (Hedonic Value)
Head: Dr. Martin Steinhaus (until September 2016: Prof. Dr. Peter Schieberle)
Current projects of the working group are aimed at the characterisation of naturally occurring, odour active compounds of foods or raw materials and their changes from the raw material to the consumer. Therefore, the so called concept of molecular sensory analysis has been developed. This concept enables the correlation human sensory perception and analytical methodology. To characterise the identified compounds modern methods of structure determination such as micropreparative gas chromatography, gas-chromatography-mass-spectrometry, and multi-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance are being applied. In addition, syntheses of the compounds as well as of stable isotope labelled internal standards are carried out. The results obtained from the studies are used to objectively evaluate the parameter "food quality", and also to optimise foods without adding aroma compounds.
Using chemosensors to objectively quantify odour compounds is an innovative methodology to measure the aroma development e.g. during roasting or baking processes. In collaboration with the Institute of Applied Physics of the University of Giessen, Germany, approaches to evaluate sensor/odorant signals have been carried out. Based on the results of this basic research, a sensor array (Standardized Primary Aroma Nose; SPAN) to measure the parameter "baking quality" has recently been established.
Future research will be aimed at determining the structure of precursors of odour-active compounds e.g. of cocoa or coffee that are present in the raw materials. Furthermore, the elucidation of so called odotopes is planned. Odotopes are basic structure that are responsible for the ability to perceive odour by means of protein receptors in the human nose. Results obtained from this research would be an important contribution in the development of bio-electronic noses. However, they could also be used in medicine as a therapeutic option to study the loss of the sense of odour.